After a Heart Attack
Many hospitals have a rehabilitation program that you can participate in as an outpatient. Or your doctor may refer you to a heart center that runs a cardiac rehabilitation program. Taking part in a program offers several important benefits:
- It will help speed up your recovery.
- You will work with people who specialize in heart health. They will show you ways to make positive changes in your life that can protect and strengthen your heart.
- You'll take part in activities that improve the way your heart functions and reduce your heart rate.
- By following through outside of rehab on what you learn, you'll reduce your chance of developing complications or dying from heart disease.
Most cardiac rehab programs consist of three parts:
- Exercise led by a certified exercise specialist.
- Classes to teach you about risk factors for heart disease and ways to reduce those risks.
- Support for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.
Making Changes to Reduce Heart Risk
Make these changes to help reduce your risk of heart attack and heart disease:
- Stop smoking.
- Treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Manage diabetes and obesity.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
- Become more active.
Read on for some specific advice on how to make those changes.
If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do -- not just for your heart but for your entire system -- is to stop. It's also one of the hardest changes to make. But your doctor can help. Ask your doctor about:
- A plan and guidance for giving up smoking.
- Alternatives to tobacco, such as nicotine gum, patches, and prescription medicines.
- Support groups and programs designed to help people quit.
- Resources either in print or online that you can use to bolster your efforts.
Just because you've tried before doesn't mean you can't quit now. Most people have to quit a number of times before they quit for good.
It's important to insist that people not smoke in your home. And try to avoid places where smokers gather. Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for heart disease.